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Story Journal Microblog

by dozens


There's this guy. I don't remember his name. But he is a storytelling competition winner many times over. And somebody interviewed him and asked how he comes up with such great stories. And his answer was, everyday you write down the most story-worthy thing that happened to you that day. The most interesting thing that happened to you.

The most interesting / story-worthy thing that happened to me today was ...

I am suddenly and rather quickly discharged from the hospital. I had been told it was likely to happen, but had adjusted my expectations very low because hospital operates on hospital time: everything seems to take about 1.5 days to carry out once a decision is made. But suddenly it was time to change into my clothes and pack up all my stuff. Got home, got right in the shower, ate a meal, got in bed, and took a nap, pet my dog, and am feeling very much like myself again. I feel like I'm right back at post-op square one again. But I'm happy to be here and done with the spinal leak, hopefully for good!
I am unhooked from all my cables and tubes. It feels liberating to be untethered. And also in control of my own toilet activities. I am cleared by physical therapy and occupational therapy to get up and walk around a little bit. I do a few laps around the ICU every couple hours. First time standing up in nine days, feels kind of surreal. And also difficult. My legs feel weak, and my back feels weak. I use a walker.
It's been well over a week since my last bowel movement, and the pressure at this point is pretty much the main discomfort I'm having. Which is saying a lot, because I've just had two spinal surgeries and an excruciating spinal fluid leak treatment. I'm a high fiber vegan: I have very regular bowel movements, usually one to three times a day. So missing just one or two days is kind of a lot for me. And now, after over a week of no movement, I have constant pressure, cramping, disinterest in eating. They've been giving me stool softeners and gentle laxatives this whole time every couple hours with no results. I've tried using the bedpan a couple times at this point. And if you've never tried to shit yourself in bed while lying flat on your back, well I can tell you that the experience feels very unnatural and uncomfortable. Attempts produce nothing but a little gas, which provides minimal relief. My ICU nurse eventually gives me a suppository, which means he administers some medicine by lubricating a small capsule with a tapered end and pushing it inside my rectum. He says, "I definitely felt it! There's a wall of poop in there!" He tells me to cross my legs and try to hold it in as long as I can, at least thirty minutes. In the meantime, they move me out of my room which has for some reason reached a sweltering 80 degrees (26.6 C). I'm set up in my new room, it's roughly an hour later, and I can start to feel a new and greater pressure, and I request the bedpan. I have been told that I mustn't bear down too hard or I might injure myself because of my CSF leak and my spinal incision. So I try to be chill about it and just let it happen if it's going to happen. But what follows is not chill at all. Soon it is completely out of my control. At least I'm not flat on my back this time: I've been through two days of "sit up therapy" so I raise the head of the bed a little bit. Soon I'm sweating and groaning and gripping the bed rails mostly on my back with my knees up and my legs spread and I feel exactly like a television actor's portrayal of a woman in labor. The pressure is still building but I'm still trying not to push because I don't want another CSF leak or to pop a suture. Then there's an alarming—I swear audible—pop as the blockage is pushed out, and a rush as the back up comes flooding out. At this point I am merely an alarmed passenger trying to hold on and ride it out. I don't stop pooping for what feels like a really long time. The relief is immense. It abates for a moment and I think I'm done, but no. Here comes round two. I have never pooped this much or for this long in my life. Nobody has. This is a world record poop that elevates me and separates me from the rest of humanity, and I feel closer to god because of it. Finally it stops. I feel shrunken and hollow. I call my nurse for help. They come in and say, "Hey, how'd it--WOW THAT IS A LOT!" The next couple days are spent trying to achieve equilibrium, because in the meantime my body is still chock full of laxatives.
While I've been in the hospital, our car broke down and has to be in the shop for "at least a week." Luckily we live really close by. Petra is able to bicycle back and forth to go sleep, check on the dog, or get stuff from home as needed. Unfortunately, it's literally 100 degrees outside. Fortunately, we should get a rental from the dealership tomorrow.
Doctors decide I've had enough and remove the lumbar drain. I get a day of rest. I sleep a lot. I spend the next couple days recovering from the treatment. There's no real way to test whether the leak is stopped other than to try getting up and see if it hurts. So they sit me up by degrees: 60 minutes at 15 degrees, 60 minutes flat. 60 at 30, 60 flat. Then 45, flat, 45, flat. I've been lying on my back for so long that sitting at 45 degrees irrationally feels like I'm going to pitch forward and tumble out of my bed. I don't have any difficulty with the inclining, so I must be healed!
Install a lumbar drain to treat the leak. This involved poking through into my spine and inserting a tiny flexible tube and hooking it up to a valve so they can drain off spinal fluid as needed. The insertion sucks because the tube has to pass through my nerve bundles which are already agitated. They move me out of the ortho wing and into the intensive care unit, where I can get the round-the-clock fluid drain regimen I've been prescribed. The big idea of the drain is that the system is pressurized like a full garden hose or a water balloon. And if we can actively drain off a little spinal fluid to depressurize the system just enough to stop (or lessen) the active leak, it will start to close up and heal on its own. The cost of this procedure is that draining spinal fluid is extremely painful. It's what landed in me in the ER after all. And now I have to endure manual draining every 60 minutes around the clock. It takes about 15 minutes at best, but I have to have them stop and pause 1 - 2 times throughout the process because the pain is too much to bear. This treatment will last 3 days, and it is terrible. Can't sleep, can't eat. Constant severe pain, because it doesn't just stop once they finish draining. Can't get enough morphine or oxy to get any relief.
New surgery. Full general anesthesia again, open me back up to irrigate and clean up the incision, and to look for a cerebrospinal fluid leak. Because that's what we assume is going on. Can't find the leak anywhere, so it must be located around the corner on the other side of the spinal column from where they are able to access. Close me back up real good with glue and staples.
Petra takes my mom to the airport to send her home, and then takes me to the imaging place for an MRI to investigate my leaking and my persistent headache. That headache feeling after starting to use my robot sucker boy progressed into a blinding, immobilizing headache, sweating and vomiting, and a feeling of just … shutting down. I thought I was going to pass out, or was maybe dying. Anyway, so I walk into the imagery place, am barely coherent enough to fill out paperwork, and promptly vomit into a trash can in the lobby. This wins me a quick trip to the emergency room where I was admitted to the hospital.
Went to the neighborhood Independence Day Parade. It is always small and cute. I like it because it is local and free: there are no corporate sponsors. No Amazon, Chase, etc. This year the neighborhood Euchre club walked again. But the Bridge club was conspicuously absent, cementing the former's spot as reigning card game. Visited the former neighborhood ice cream shop's new location over by the parade route. Cute, good location for them. Not as charming as the original location though. Walking down the block eating my ice cream cone, I saw a young boy, maybe 6 years old, come running out of the cafe across the street, and run straight into a little traffic bollard. It was the thin, white, kind of flexy kind. So it gave when he ran into it, and then bounced back and pushed him straight down into the ground. He was fine, seemingly embarrassed more than hurt. So I felt fine laughing. Also I have run into poles and bars and all kinds of things myself plenty of times both as a kid and as an adult. So I feel I've earned the right through hard won personal experience. A gaggle of preteen girls near me on the other side of the street guffawed and snickered. One says, "Who runs into a pole?" And one of the others sheepishly admits, "I do it all the time."
My wound vac filled up alarmingly fast and I ended up needing to go to the emergency room. It went really well, and really quick. We were seriously in and out in probably less than 30 minutes? Unheard of. That didn't stop me from having a little panic attack over it though. Got all headachy and sweaty and my heart was racing. Had to go lie down afterwards.
I ended up having to go back to the hospital for some repairs. Turns out I likely popped a suture somewhere deep down in the hole. So the gave me a little robot buddy to wear and carry around with me for the next week. It will apply constant weak suction to site to drain it and keep it dry. Like a really weak leach, or a really weak robot vampire. I'm happy with this so I don't have to go through my entire stock of supplies, so I'm confident it will stay clean, and so I don't have to worry about going back to the hospital again or to the emergency room going into the July 4th holiday and weekend.
I just accidentally dropped the roll of toilet paper. (I can't bend down to pick stuff up because surgery) Luckily, I had a second roll of paper nearby in case of this exact situation. But then I dropped it too. Against all odds, I had a third roll within reach. This one I was able to hold on to. And that is precisely why you always have a backup plan for your backup plan.
My friends came over for dinner last night. They brought their one year old, who is really smart and really funny. She did some singing and dancing and was in general a real cut up. I gave her the storybook I've been meaning to give her for a while. And her mom, my adult friend, gave me some activity books for while I'm on restrictions. That was nice. I've already worked a few crosswords from it.
One of my best friends has a kid who is turning 12 next week. I was supposed to take him to soccer practice tonight, but I'm currently unable to drive. Nor could I sit for 60 minutes once I got there to hang out and watch. On account of having just had spinal surgery and all. So I wrapped it up with newsprint and twine and sent it along with Petra who stepped up to take him in my place. I was at Zine Fest last year and saw an old coworker of mine from the library who is now doing art and comics now full time. He had a really cool graphic adventure choose-your-own-adventure book that he wrote and illustrated. I grabbed it, thinking of kiddo. And tonight he got to unwrap it! Apparently he ran up to his room to read it when he got home and said, "They sure do know how to give good gifts!"
If required, I can just walk for 60 minutes in my house. Just pacing the upstairs hallway back and forth. No headphones, no nothing. Just taking steps.
Grabbed a hand mirror and stood in front of the bathroom mirror and removed my drain and changed my dressing. Feel more human now without tubes coming out of me.
I had a double discetomy and laminectomy. Ended up staying overnight for observation. Apparently the surgeon came out into the waiting room afterwards, mopped his brow, and said, "That was hard!" My nerves were so agitated that every time he got close to where he needed to be, my legs started kicking. Woke up though with no back or leg pain. Aside from the incision obviously. What a miracle!
My surgery unexpectedly got moved up from next week to tomorrow morning. So suddenly I feel like I'm on a sitcom when it's time for the baby to come and the dad is scrambling around yelling, "Where's the bag? Where are my keys? Wah!" Earlier I had started dipping my toes into the more programmatic capabilities of remind(1), which I've been using as my main calendar / todo list since the beginning of the year. There are a lot of follow-up dates and milestones and stuff following the surgery. And instead of just handwriting them all out, I created a SURGERY_DATE variable and computed all of the trigger dates from that. So when the date changed today, I just changed that value, and my pre-op and post-op appointments all updated automatically. Sure do love a calendar domain-specific language!
My bicycle tube exploded during First Friday Jazz at Son Of The Son Of Lawrence Park. Totally shredded. So I went to the local bike store and got a new tube, but when I got home and looked at the tire, it said to use a different size than the tube I had. So I went back to the bike shop to swap it out, but the bike mechanic said that they don't really make tubes that size anymore (27 x 1 1/4), and that the one I had was a compatible size, so I was good. I sheepishly said okay thanks, and left, and went back home. I put it on the wheel but it wouldn't hold air. My new tube came with a cute little puncture hole in it! So I patched it up good and put it on, and started pumping it up. And then it exploded right in my face as I was pumping it! Just like the old tube did. It was kind of scary, but also it was over before I really knew what was going on. So it was mostly frustrating and disappointing. And my ear is still ringing. I've been trying to change a tube for a week and a half now. This is a very elementary task, but I can't seem to accomplish it. I checked the tire and the wheel, but there must be something sharp or a jagged edge or something that I missed. At this point I think I'm just going to take it into the shop and have the guy do it. This is something I can delegate and outsource.
if i had known that a bidet only cost ~35 dollars and about 10 minutes to install, i would have gotten one a long time ago.
i bought a bunch of medical supplies and stuff for my upcoming back surgery. and i voted. democracy! then, a beautiful picnic in the park with friends. ate grapes and strawberries and hummus and crackers.
I don't know whose idea it was to allow the Aurora Police Department—one of the most Black people killingest police agencies in the USA—into our neighborhood Juneteenth Parade. But there they were. And somehow the Aurora Police Department "Police Recruitment" vehicle fucked up their place in the parade and just parked on the side of the road at the start of the parade for pretty much the entire parade. Including when the group walking for justice for Kilyn Lewis—the latest black man killed by APD, just last month—walked by. A woman holding up a t-shirt with his face on it turned around and displayed it to the cops after passing them. And they chanted "Say his name! Kilyn Lewis!" by the car, and waved their "Stop Killing Us" signs. And then they and the rest of the parade moved on. The car stayed still until the rest of the APD group, near the very end of the parade, rolled by and the car joined them and finally rolled away.
Saw some wild dolphins and sea lions on a harbor cruise. Our tour guide was named "Max with an X" and had done almost 2.5 thousand tours.
The best vegan burritos in OB apparently come from a counter top inside a liquor store on Valencia. Got a vegan fish burrito and we ate them on bench overlooking the ocean while two hippies behind us talked incessantly about eating mushrooms.
Saw Vampire Weekend at a really cool outdoor amphitheater. It was about 70% as good as their 2019 tour, and included a long, extended country-western swing Goldrush medley during which Ezra invited an audience member up on stage to play cornhole for money and then gave him 3 $100 bills in an extremely patronizing and insulting fashion.
Flew to San Diego. Learned that getting wheelchair service at the airport can take 30 minutes or longer. Met a bunch of internet strangers on a rooftop bar. My first meal was a giant California burrito from a lousy looking place in a strip mall that I chose because it is named after a cozy little Mexican fishing village / surfing destination where I attended a friend's wedding by myself because my partner got E. coli and got severely ill.
I decided to get back surgery.
I was surprised when my favorite neighborhood restaurant finally quietly reopened after they closed at the start of the pandemic four years ago!
I rode my bike to the park to listen to some cool jazz. I locked it up and a couple minutes later my front tube EXPLODED. Blew the tire half off the rim, and shredded the tube. People got a little panicked and looked around for a gun.
I was at the doctor's office and there was a woman in the waiting room with a pigeon on a leash. The doctor told her, Sorry, Ma'am, no birds allowed in the practice.
I put on my sunglasses as I was crossing the lobby and a delivery guy was approaching the entrance and yelled out to the people behind him, "We got a blind man coming in hot!" (I walk with a cane.) And he made everybody step aside as I walked out. I sheepishly said thank you, and got into my car and drove away.